Pediatric speech-language pathologists are specialized therapists and medical professionals who work with children to diagnose and treat speech disorders and impediments. Pediatric speech pathologists may work with young patients who have developed improper speech patterns to help them better express themselves, and they also work with children who have communication difficulties due to medical issues, including autism and other developmental conditions. The pathologist helps these children to understand and interpret incoming communication and properly express responses and thoughts through both verbal and non-verbal methods.
Pediatric speech-language pathologists work to help children who may have difficulty interpreting aspects of speech and communication and help them understand and interpret information to develop more typical communication responses and processing; many of the issues they address involve poor verbal sound-construction and problems such as stuttering. In these cases, the pathologist also works with parents and teachers to develop exercises to help correct or mitigate these issues. In some situations, a medical cause (such as poor formation of baby teeth or an impaired palate) can impede speech, and the pathologist may help the child to work within these confines or work with physicians to surgically correct these problems. More serious issues for a pediatric speech-language pathologist involve areas of communication difficulty for which a physical or vocalized cause is not readily apparent.
Pediatric speech-language pathologists should have a post-graduate degree in speech pathology, including residencies and internships, and many aspiring pathologists pursue doctorate degrees to better understand the psychological implications of their patients' speech impediments. Pediatric speech-language pathologists should also have strong aptitude for working with young children, and they typically work in a clinical or office environment, such as a child psychology clinic.